Al Qaeda has released a new speech by Ayman al Zawahiri, who praises the January 2015 terrorist assault on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris, asks Allah to reward the “brothers in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP) for helping “to complete this blessed work,” and briefly eulogizes a top AQAP official who was killed in a US drone strike earlier this year.
Zawahiri’s message, which was recorded several months ago, was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Within days of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices, AQAP issued a claim of responsibility. AQAP’s message was delivered by Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, who said the operation was planned in “compliance” with the “command” of Allah to support his messenger, as well as the “order of our general emir, the generous Sheikh Ayman bin Muhammad al Zawahiri,” and the “will” of Sheikh Osama bin Laden. Al Ansi was subsequently killed in a US drone strike in April.
Al Qaeda portrays the January 2015 massacre in Paris, as well as a series of murders in South Asia, as being part of a campaign against the “blasphemers,” who have supposedly offended the honor of the Prophet Mohammed. In addition to the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine, which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, al Qaeda’s jihadists have targeted writers in South Asia who are accused of offending Islamic sensibilities.
Indeed, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has claimed responsibility for a series of gruesome killings in South Asia. The head of AQIS, Asim Umar, said earlier this year that the “assassinations are part of a series of operations initiated by the different branches of al Qaeda on the orders of our respected leader Sheikh Ayman al Zawahiri (may Allah protect him).”
Zawahiri expounds upon this theme in his latest message, saying terrorist attacks like those carried out in Paris in January are justified.
“My mujahideen brothers and sons, and Muslims, this victory is a victory for all of us,” Zawahiri says, according to SITE’s translation. “It is a victory for the Islamic Ummah against those among the immoral Westerners who left their Christianity and assaulted the Prophet of Islam, and their hearts continue to drip with Crusader hatred for the Muslims.” He adds, “These humanist-believing Crusaders are the ones who are waging against us today the largest Crusader campaign in the history of Islam from Indonesia through West Africa.”
The al Qaeda leader asks Allah to “have mercy on our brothers the martyrs of the Paris invasion, and grant them the highest level in Paradise.” He also asks Allah to support AQAP “over their enemies from among the Crusaders and their agent henchmen and allies of the Rafidi [derogatory term for Shiites] Houthi advocates.”
Zawahiri remembers al Nadhari, saying he “gave an example for the scholars and students who act upon their knowledge, who are martyred in the field and thus they combine the ink of the scholars with the blood of the scholars, and establish the argument against whoever missed the individual form of jihad, to push away the Crusader, the Rafidi [Shiites], and secular assailant on the lands of Islam,” Zawahiri says, according to SITE’s translation. The al Qaeda chief goes on to pray that Allah “compensate us and the Muslim Ummah [community of worldwide Muslims]” for the loss of al Nadhari.
Zawahiri’s message also includes a call for jihadist unity. He argues that the Paris attackers should serve as a model for all the jihadists who want to defend the “sanctity” of the Prophet. “[L]et us give our efforts against our enemies and not to waste them against one another,” Zawahiri says. This is likely a reference to the infighting between al Qaeda’s followers and the Islamic State’s jihadists.
Zawahiri says the jihadists should confront “the enemies of Islam from China, India, and through Russia, Europe, and America,” because they “do not respect from us any sanctity” and it is, therefore, “our right to respond to their aggression, and to take revenge against them.”
“Therefore, we must move the battle to the enemy’s own home, especially Europe and America, because they are leaders of the contemporary Crusader campaign,” the al Qaeda master argues, according to SITE. “They must be killed, just like they kill, and be wounded, just like they wound, and be bombarded, just like they bombard, and be made to weep, be orphans and widows, just like they make others sob and be orphans and widows.”
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